How to hold a Lobster Massacre dinner party in 10 easy steps.


I write about food but as I get more and more jaded with food trends (local and seasonal, eat the whole pig, oh you’re making gourmet burgers, how unusual, everyone but probably not their dog are making them, and you say that you make your own bread, well that is wholesome yes yes yes, stab me now), I am becoming increasingly aware that I am not necessarily a great cook. Or host come to think of it.

Every weekend I trawl through the Sunday supplements and feed on bird’s eye views of impossible salads (impossible because I can’t be bothered to make them), I leer at close ups of the insides of pies marvelling at the architecture and crave the lightness of cakes, wafted with icing sugar that haven’t felt the back of my wooden spoon.

Yet looking at food, talking about and even reviewing it, does not a good cook make. I have roasted pheasants dry for New Year, melted cheese on a radiator when a fondue heater failed and made chocolate mousses that had all the lightness of a truffle thrown hard at the pavement. My Victoria sandwiches are so shy they barely peak over the side of the tin and I recently made 2 kilograms of liquid marmalade which had been on the boil for about 2 hours.

It is with such honesty and boredom for the perfect photo of the perfect dish, and a sneaky stifled yawn at British food trends (yawn), that I wish to share with you the story of The Great Lobster Massacre.

  1. Invite some friends round. Lovely ones from up the road, who you have only just recently met. Make sure one of them is a vegetarian.
  2. Order some lobsters from another friend, pick them up on the way back from work and put them, still in their polystyrene box, in the freezer. Fail to even think about inviting friend to partake of lobsters he has just provided.
  3. Ignore the stacks of cookbooks from ‘experts’ that line your study wall, in particular, the new Nathan Outlaw in blue entitled British Seafood, foreword by Rick Stein. What do they know?
  4. Text a friend who once cooked you some nice lobster. Receive reply: hot until done = red = yum.
  5. Explain to very patient husband and polite dinner guest that lobsters are best cut in half (alive but quietened by the freezer) and put straight in the oven, temperature and time, um, negligible.
  6. Realise too late that the polystyrene box containing the lobsters has actually insulated them against the cold in the freezer. Tails are flapping and claws still moving.
  7. Give big sharp knife to husband while guest insists on watching and look away into the oven door (nothing in there) while jumpy lobsters are ‘dispatched’.
  8. Overcook aforementioned lobsters so that tails are slightly chewy. Provide no sauces, no garlic butter, no oils, no lubrication to the already dried flesh.
  9. Drop large (ugly) baking tray of once delicious chips, made from local potatoes in front of lobster-massacre-spectating guest. Ensure that chips have been cooked about an hour before guests are due to arrive so that once re-heated they are chewy and soft and a little cold and very un-chip-like.
  10. And finally: make sure it’s a Friday so you are too tired to give CPR to the lobsters, consult an actual cookbook, consider the timing of your vegetables or even maximising the pleasure of your guests.

Cheese for geeks

Cheese is up there with coffee and wine. If you know what you are doing. For Mark Pitts-Tucker – official cheese taster at Davidstow – you can never have too much of a good thing. In a busy week, he tastes up to 700 samples at work and one of his favourite things is to go home and eat more. Read More

Great Chefs of Britain exhibition at The Old Coastguard, Mousehole

Food and art are never far apart and taste is as extricably linked to the eyes as it is to the tongue. From the palette knife that ‘smears’ an unappealing ode to Van Gogh across the plate to the smoky drama of Hestons’ now controversial nitrous oxide gas, the baking of bread to look like mangled body parts and Carl Warner’s stunning foodscapes, food can be art and art food.
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Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 Padstow finally gets his Michelin star

Whenever I talk to people about the slate-roofed Grade II-listed house sandwiched between Stein outlets that is Paul Ainsworth’s No. 6, the response has always been the same. Until now. The question, “Why hasn’t he got a Michelin star yet?” in incredulous tones has finally been answered. As of yesterday, the team at No.6 found out ahead of time that they have nailed their first Michelin star.

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Squids in

saffronbunny-food-blogger-cornwallI originally fell in love with cephalopods: squid, cuttlefish and octopus – in Sicily, where I was lucky enough to live for a few blissfully foodie years. The markets were to die for, crammed with creatures that had died for the sheer pleasure of eating. The Sicilians know how to do food. We are merely beginners in comparison. I have a very vivid memory of a Sicilian fisherman ramming his fist deep into the belly of a live octopus, twisting and pulling back out again – within seconds, the octopus was sliced, diced and plated up with lemon for passersby. Real food for real people. Read More

2011: A year of saffronbunny in pictures

To send out the old and ring in the new, here is a selection of photos from 2011, the very first Year In The Life Of saffronbunny:

Reviewing Nathan Outlaw’s masterclass with Tom Kerridge. (photo by David Griffen)

The best. Massage. Ever. Goldeneye resort in Jamaica.

Running into the sea with wooden toys – a revelation in water (photograph by John Isaac).

Learning to be a preserving goddess with Pam Corbin and Liz Neville.

A coiled ray wing with confit duck skin for lunch at Paul Ainsworth‘s Number 6 in Padstow for BBC Olive mag.

The multi-talented co-founder of The Tea Appreciation Society, Shayne House.

The first ever Clandestine Cake Club in Cornwall.

Two inspirational food friends: Joanne Schofield and Sanjay Kumar.

Discovering The Wheelhouse, Falmouth with MM of the GCG.

Chris Ranger and the March Oyster Gathering at Mylor.

Meeting and interviewing Philip Stansfield who won the world’s best cheese in November 2010 (spot Alex James in the background looking excited).

Bubbles and booze at BinTwo, Padstow.

Cooking with Paul Ainsworth.

My first ever focaccia waiting to go in the oven, a day of many firsts with yeast, baker Tom and Gastrogeek.

Crab apples at Tresillian House.

Meeting the moon gardener and guru John Harris at Tresillian House, an inspiration (photo byJohn Such).

The importance of foraging, especially for nettles.

Cooking and eating en plein air, doesn’t get much better.

Loving life in Cornwall (photo by John Such).

Nathan Outlaw and Tom Kerridge

Tom Kerridge & Nathan Outlaw Masterclass, 5 December 2011 (photo courtesy of David Griffen)

Monday night in winter in Rock and second-home-syndrome means you’d be more likely to catch a glimpse of a flip-flopped zombie in a ghost town than walk into a restaurant buzzing with life, a film crew and three of the UK’s top chefs (Paul Ainsworth was a guest). But this is exactly what greeted us as we stepped out of the north coast cold and into … Read More