30 June 2013

Good morning to you all and I hope it’s a pleasurably pleasant morning wherever you are. It’s been mixed this week – cloudy and cool with smatterings of rain interspersed with occasional glimpses of the sun. Well, Wimbledon and the Glastonbury Festival have started so what do you expect?

Raphael - The Transfiguration
Raphael – The Transfiguration

Penelope and I had a lovely day on Friday – after our morning yoga session we toured down the motorway to Oxford for a visit to the Ashmolean Museum and their current exhibition of Master Drawings. It was stunning.

The drawings, including works by Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Turner, Ingres, Degas, right up to a 1973 drawing by David Hockney and a 1993 drawing by Antony Gormley, normally live in the quiet darkness of the print room where, it seems, although anyone can ask to see them, they are among the museum’s least visited treasures. The exhibition has been described as a once in a lifetime chance to see them all on the walls together.

There were also drawings by Michaelangelo, Raphael, Dürer, Rembrandt, Pissaro and many more. In all, apparently, there were 71 drawings on display, a tiny fraction of the 27,000 drawings in the Ashmolean’s collection. Unfortunately, there is no online version of the exhibition to point you to (that I could find) so that you can share the experience but if you Google “master drawings ashmolean” and look at the images it returns, you’ll be able to have a glance at a few of the ones we saw.

After the exhibition we wandered up St Giles for a late lunch at Brown’s which is always very pleasant. I had the simple yet “world famous” Brown’s burger which was almost as good as my equally world famous Best Hamburger in the World. Not only was it a very good burger but the mountain of chips (fries to our American friends) meant that no evening meal was required (on my part, at least).

Osborne the TitSpeaking of burgers, it seems that the rise of the “gourmet” burger is making the news largely because of the Chancellor, Osborne the Tit’s efforts to portray himself as a “man of the people.” I am guessing it was one of his advisers who suggested that he “tweet” a photo of himself eating a humble hamburger while working late at the Treasury.

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. A harmless suggestion from an advisor that would help people appreciate the man behind the red briefcase.

But George Osborne’s tweeting of a picture of him eating a burger the evening before the comprehensive spending review prompted almost as many headlines as the financial or political details.

Hundreds replied, saying it was a publicity stunt, an attempt to project a populist image. But it was the forensic reporting of the Sun which revealed that Osborne’s burger was not any old burger but a “poshburger”, bought from upmarket chain, Byron. The paper contrasted the cheapest Byron burger, at £6.75, with the lowest priced McDonald’s at 99p and said Osborne was “ridiculed”.

Osborne’s attempt to sidestep the issue by claiming that McDonald’s did not deliver only made it worse – Byron does not deliver either and it later emerged that Treasury staff were sent to pick up the burger from Waterloo station.

What’s that expression – when you’ve made an arse of yourself and you find yourself in a deep hole of your own making, the best approach is to stop digging rather than try to justify your foolishness by claiming that McDonald’s won’t deliver. One has to wonder how much the burger cost all together considering that he sent someone to Waterloo station to collect it. Presumably he saved the taxpayer money by sending the lowliest civil servant at his disposal. After all, we’re all in this together.

A late update: the following cartoon of “Burgergate” by Chris Riddell was in this morning’s Guardian. Another example of the mainstream media catching up with the Befouled News?

Osborne the Tit

Following on from my comment last week about Google mail and its targeted advertising (Do You Have the Chops to be a Master Sommelier?) I ran across another wine-related article of some interest. Many experiments have shown that people can’t tell plonk from grand cru. Now one US winemaker claims that even experts can’t judge wine accurately.

A winemaker in California, puzzled by inconsistent results in wine contests, decided to run an experiment with the agreement of the organisers of the California State Wine Fair competition. Judges were given the usual range of wines to taste but some wines would be presented three times, poured from the same bottle each time. The result? Only about 10% of professional wine judges were consistent in their assessments. The others judged the same wine differently when presented with it three times.

This is certainly not the first time someone has questioned the science of wine-tasting. French academic Frédéric Brochet tested the effect of labels in 2001. He presented the same Bordeaux superior wine to 57 volunteers a week apart and in two different bottles – one for a table wine, the other for a grand cru.

The tasters were fooled.

When tasting a supposedly superior wine, their language was more positive – describing it as complex, balanced, long and woody. When the same wine was presented as plonk, the critics were more likely to use negatives such as weak, light and flat.

It’s what I’ve always said – if you like it, it’s good, no matter the price or what the label says.

A sign of the type of society we live in nowadays – there was a headline in the Guardian last Sunday – Starbucks pays UK corporation tax. Apparently, it’s “news” that a large, profitable corporation pays UK corporation tax.

And finally, another “flash mob” video which has been doing the rounds, this time an Italian opera in a London food hall.

[KGVID width=”640″ height=”400″]http://www.stragnell.com/videos/sacla_foodhall_flash_mob.mp4[/KGVID]

I am a great fan of the Sacla range of products.

Much love to you all,





2 thoughts on “30 June 2013”

    1. I’m sorry if it’s not working for you. It lasts just over three minutes, I think. Can’t think why it doesn’t work for you but maybe it doesn’t work for anyone!

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